Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Good News (Graham Is Back), Bad News (5th Straight Loss) & Keep The Faith!

Finally have arrived home from a great trip to Easter Island and Patagonia visiting glaciers and seeing whales, penguins, seals & dolphins. Also visited the southern most city in the world (Ushuaia, Argentina) and went to Cape Horn, the southern most point in South America. Thanks to everyone for the kind words welcoming me home on Twitter, Facebook, email, & text messages.

Would have never guessed the Americans would go 1-8 while I was gone as they were 10-0-2 the day I left. The bleeding continued last night with a 5-3 loss in Denver as the Cutthroats scored two first period Jean-Phillip Chabot goals and the Americans could never catch up.

Bruce (with daughter Harper) won the EIHL championship last year in Nottingham, England

The good news of the day was the announcement that Bruce Graham has been signed for the remainder of the season and the playoffs. When you talk Allen Americans all time greats all you have to do is look at career offensive statistics to get your answer. Bruce Graham is the all time leader in goals, assists, points, power play goals, game winning goals and plus/minus. One area Coach Martinson mentioned he is looking for help from Graham is strength on the wall on the power play. Bruce led the Americans in power play points every season he played in Allen (2009-2012). Bruce has not played professional hockey this year and it is still not certain when he will report to the team. Tommy Daniels mentioned on his broadcast last night that Bruce will not be here for the Wichita game on Friday. Last year Bruce played for the Nottingham Panthers in the EIHL which is the top league in Great Britain. The playoffs in Great Britain are a bit confusing as they are quite different than in North America. There are three different championships in the EIHL and Nottingham won all three last year, a feat that is rarely accomplished.

Last year Bruce Graham (center back without the hat) won all three championships the EIHL plays for each season


- Whenever things are not going well special teams usually play a big role. During this 1-8 streak the power play is 5-34 (14.7%) while the penalty kill has given up 13 goals in 48 attempts for a kill percentage of 72.9%.

-  Here is a look at special teams and how they have declined over the season. The numbers in parentheses is the rank in the CHL:
                          Power Play        Penalty Kill
November 1       21.6% (1)           95.1% (1)
December 20     19.2% (3)            85.7% (2)
January 20         18.5% (4)            85.7% (3)
February 18       17.7% (6)            82.4% (6)
Last 9 games      14.6% (8)           72.9% (10)

- The power play has only two goals in the last five games going 2-17 (11.8%). Jon Zion has one of the goals and assisted on the other (Brian McMillin had the goal).

- You often hear coach Martinson say you can be physical without taking penalties. This has not been the case recently.  When your penalty kill unit is struggling penalties are a game changer. In the last seven games Allen has had 24 power play opportunities while their opponents have had 39 opportunites.

- During this 1-8 streak Allen has allowed an average of 4.55 goals per game while scoring only 2.78 goals per game. Compare these numbers to averages for the season where Allen has allowed an average of 3.3 goals per game while scoring 3.5 goals per game.

- Obviously injuries have had a big impact. Early in the season Allen had very few games lost to injury. That has certainly caught up with the team recently. In addition to Trevor Ludwig being out for the season and Jarret Lukin being out since the end of November, Allen has recently lost Darryl Bootland, Greger Hansen, Phil Fox, and Tyler Ludwig (since returned). Add Bryan Pitton to the list as he was injured in the game last night and was replaced by Mark Guggenberger in the third period. Injuries are part of the game and every team has them and as Coach Martinson has said to me many times injuries aren't an excuse, you have to find a way to win with the guys on the ice.

- Not sure if this is good news or bad news but the two leading scorers for Allen in the last five games are both defensemen. John  Zion, who has scored in all six games he has played for Allen, has six points (2 goals 5 assists) and Mike Berube has five points (1 goal 4 assists).

- The team headed home to Allen after the game in Denver and will arrive this morning (Tuesday). They will leave again Thursday for the Friday game in Wichita.

- Rapid City beat St. Charles last night 5-1 to break a six game losing streak. The Rush had lost 9 of 10 games going into last night.

- Remember both Rapid City and Allen are great teams going through a bad stretch but they have plenty of opportunity to get back on the winning track. While a team is highly unlikely to merely "turn it on" come playoff time it will be the teams playing well in March that will be the most dangerous in the playoffs. With the addition of Jon Zion and Bruce Graham to improve the power play, if Jarret Lukin can get back in the lineup to help on the penalty kill and defensively, if Darryl Bootland can be Darryl Bootland again, and if Phil Fox and Greger Hansen can be healthy and the scoring weapons they can be, Allen will be ready for a run in the playoffs. Add a hot goalie to the mix and you have a recipe for another championship run. Keep the Faith!

- Remember it was just over a year ago from mid January to mid February the eventual Presidents' Cup winners won only two games while losing eleven. Keep the Faith!

- Remember the big signing last year (Todd Robinson) didn't happen until March 17th. We have Bruce Graham a month earlier. Keep the Faith!

- Steve Martinson has won seven championships and has failed to make the playoffs only once in his coaching career. The year he missed the playoffs he had six players called up to the AHL and six players had season ending injuries. In addition the team was going out of business at the end of the season. Keep the Faith!

- Knowing Steve Martinson, additional roster changes are still in the works. Another big name signing from Europe could still happen. Keep the Faith!

DID YOU KNOW: The Americans have given up an empty net goal in their last six losses.


  1. Hope you and Nancy had a fabulous time and I am so glad you are back. I do not know how many times I heard "Where is Barry when you need him?". Things have to change with this team if we are to contend. Guess you were surprised to see some new players, and they are playing well. The return of Graham should certainly spark things up, hopefully, for the better. Looking forward to welcoming you home in person on Sunday.

  2. Mary, thanks for the kind words. You are right that I was surprised when I looked in detail at all that has transpired lately. Martinson will get it turned around but in needs to happen in the next couple of weeks.

  3. Welcome back Barry! No more trips for you two until AFTER we win the cup again!!!